Today’s Wills and Probate Podcast
Podcast host David Opie is joined by CEO of Farewill, Dan Garrett to discuss the current industry and the role of technology in the latest Today’s Wills and Probate podcast.
You can listen to the full discussion below and on Apple podcasts, Spotify and other podcast providers. Subscribe to hear all the latest from around the wills and probate industry.
Garrett has been running Farewill for almost eight years after the ageing population of Japan immersed him into the world of death and helping people through these times. He described how interested he is in supporting people through the worst experience of their lives.
After focusing his time on this part of life and learning about will writing from Parkers Modern will precedence, he created the business in 2015. He said:
“There’s this profound human aversion to talking about and dealing with death and in place of actually having that really meaningful conversation about the fact that we are all going to die.
It tends to have a scope creep of the formality and legal technicalities of it replacing what’s at the heart of someone writing their will.
We’re so bad at talking about those things that what ends up displacing the emotional driver is a lot of the practicalities, and that to me felt like something I wanted to dedicate.”
Garrett has mentioned that he does not describe himself as an “online will writer”. He added that Farewill do a serious volume of telephone wills and states that there’s a “real level of human interaction” on both of their products and they always talk about it in the best interests of the customers so that they know the “most appropriate way to get it done”.
When asked by David Opie, Managing Director of Today’s Media, how is Garrett managing quality at Farewill, he said:
“Firstly, the nature of our service isn’t that we can provide the solicitor experience, it’s just not what we do. We don’t price like that and it isn’t what we claim to do.
Secondly, we take huge pride in the quality of the information on our website so that people can effectively self-serve their way through the product.
Thirdly, we have live customer support – that’s a significant team inside the business. I mean that if someone doesn’t understand something, we can help them immediately.
And lastly, we have our will checking process where we’ll, you know if there’s any reason to.”
Garrett went on to explain how customer reputation stands for itself:
“People don’t necessarily like what we do, and they might disagree with it.
But customer reputation stands for itself. Reputation with our partners stands for itself, and the North Star for us isn’t what our competitors think of us. It’s what our customers think of us.”
Although Garrett has said that they are doing some interesting things in the business, he adds that they can still improve. “We’re also subject to FCA approval launching our funeral planning proposition which I think is going to be an interesting product to weave into other things that we do – especially on the writing side of things,” he said.
When asked what are the future plans for Farewill, Garrett said:
“I think we’re very much just getting started with the biggest world writer in the UK, but it’s still a fragmented industry and I still think we have a lot more potential to.
Though we’re quite obsessive about this customer origination issue, how people know where to start and have confidence in that experience and on the wild side of things, at least partnerships have been a massive part of our growth. Lots of that has been with charities.
So we’ve made in pledged income for our charity partners almost £800 million since we started. I’m quite excited for that to hit the billion mark. And then from then on in the 10 billion mark and that’s a really meaningful GDP level contribution to people.”
The role of technology has become a prominent topic during many discussions. Garrett describes how there is a lot of potential in all of their products to deliver a “better customer experience” through the use of technology”. He said:
“It’s about making our processes internally far more scalable and effective, which means we can reduce our costs, which we then pass back to customers or whether it’s our use of data to spot opportunities in the market like launching our funerals business that would go unnoticed.
I think that we’re going to see an overall raising In human intelligence and capability with AI as a really essential conduit to that. And I think it’s absolutely terrifying.”
Garrett hopes that he will be alive in a few years to see how the use of technology evolves. He continued:
“Maybe it will just be really boring – maybe it will just be mundane and actually it’s kind of crap and nothing changes. But those things are definitely all possible.”